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Journal Articles Scientific Reports Year : 2022

A mobile EEG study on the psychophysiological effects of walking and crowding in indoor and outdoor urban environments

Panayotis Mavros
Michel J Wälti
  • Function : Author
Mohsen Nazemi
  • Function : Author
Crystal Huiyi Ong
  • Function : Author

Abstract

Abstract Environmental psychologists have established multiple psychological benefits of interaction with natural, compared to urban, environments on emotion, cognition, and attention. Yet, given the increasing urbanisation worldwide, it is equally important to understand how differences within different urban environments influence human psychological experience. We developed a laboratory experiment to examine the psychophysiological effects of the physical (outdoor or indoor) and social (crowded versus uncrowded) environment in healthy young adults, and to validate the use of mobile electroencephalography (EEG) and electrodermal activity (EDA) measurements during active walking. Participants (N = 42) were randomly assigned into a walking or a standing group, and watched six 1-min walk-through videos of green, urban indoor and urban outdoor environments, depicting high or low levels of social density. Self-reported emotional states show that green spaces is perceived as more calm and positive, and reduce attentional demands. Further, the outdoor urban space is perceived more positively than the indoor environment. These findings are consistent with earlier studies on the psychological benefits of nature and confirm the effectiveness of our paradigm and stimuli. In addition, we hypothesised that even short-term exposure to crowded scenes would have negative psychological effects. We found that crowded scenes evoked higher self-reported arousal, more negative self-reported valence, and recruited more cognitive and attentional resources. However, in walking participants, they evoked higher frontal alpha asymmetry, suggesting more positive affective responses. Furthermore, we found that using recent signal-processing methods, the EEG data produced a comparable signal-to-noise ratio between walking and standing, and that despite differences between walking and standing, skin-conductance also captured effectively psychophysiological responses to stimuli. These results suggest that emotional responses to visually presented stimuli can be measured effectively using mobile EEG and EDA in ambulatory settings, and that there is complex interaction between active walking, the social density of urban spaces, and direct and indirect affective responses to such environments.
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Dates and versions

hal-04029599 , version 1 (15-03-2023)

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Panayotis Mavros, Michel J Wälti, Mohsen Nazemi, Crystal Huiyi Ong, Christoph Hölscher. A mobile EEG study on the psychophysiological effects of walking and crowding in indoor and outdoor urban environments. Scientific Reports, 2022, 12 (1), pp.18476. ⟨10.1038/s41598-022-20649-y⟩. ⟨hal-04029599⟩
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